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Michael Stanley Responds to Scene


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Seattle Steve said:

Can you imagine in 1970 a young 21 year old Eric Carmen wandering of the shore in Jersey to a little club called Stone Pony for a beer and meeting another kid, the same age by a month, named Bruce, who is need of a keyboard player tonight, to work out some new songs he has written on a cocktail napkin... oh and by the way Bruce explains to his new found friend, that intimidating guy shooting pool over there, that's not the bouncer, he's my sax player.

Wanna jam tonight..?

Meanwhile an 8 year old kid named Jon peers in the window and dreams of playing there someday.

Woody Allen can write the script! With a little humor (Wilder) added of course!

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Eric Carmen said:

I'd love to see what the local papers write about Bruce and Jon in New Jersey. Heck, I just read a really lovely piece about Frankie Previte (who's also a really nice guy and a talented singer/songwriter) talking about his life since "Dirty Dancing." Amazingly, they seemed to be happy for his success, and didn't feel the need to put down the movie or his songs! Wow! Local boy makes good! What a concept!

Here's the article for anyone at Cleveland Scene who may have missed it:

(STILL HAVING) THE TIME OF HIS LIFE
By Anders Martensson

Jimmy Ienner: "I've got this little movie called "Dirty Dancing.' I need a song."

Franke Previte: "Jimmy, I'm trying to get a new recording deal."

Ienner: "Franke, write the song. It's gonna change your life."

FRANKE PREVITE WAS playing R&B at Mrs. Jay's and rock 'n' roll at the Sunshine Inn. But when the club scene in and around Asbury Park exploded, Previte already was moving out. You'd find him traveling the States with various bands, opening shows for Rod Stewart or Deep Purple.

"This was my school. Everything was about watching, listening and learning," he said.

Previte made it big time. This month marks 20 years since "Dirty Dancing" hit movie screens, helping several of Previte's songs find their way into millions of homes around the world.

"That particular year, 1987, really was over the top. It was beyond whatever I could have imagined. My wildest dreams were about making a living writing music, best-case scenario getting a Grammy nomination. But not anything like this. Never.

"Before, I was living in a two-bedroom apartment in New Brunswick with a mattress, my dog Sparky and an amplifier."

That was then, this is now: Franke Previte is enjoying the good small-town life in Monmouth County. In his living room, there's a grand piano, on top of it a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Walls carry proof of success and some elegant art, painted by good friend Tico Torres who, prior to joining Bon Jovi, was on the road to fame, drumming for Franke & the Knockouts.

"Tico brought his friend, this young kid Richie Sambora, in to try out for a second guitar-player slot. Can you believe we passed? Whatever happened to that guy?" Previte said with a laugh.

Previte got to travel the rock 'n' roll highways for years and years. He worked his way to fame and fortune, but apart from the various Bon Jovi connections, he was never the average Jersey rocker.

"Dad was an opera singer. There was always a Mario Lanza thing going on, and I really grew tired of hearing all those Italian notes," Previte said. "Instead, I started listening to a lot of R&B-music: Otis Redding, the Temptations.

"By the age of 13, I was in an a cappella group. It was me and four black guys doing the Frankie Lymon songs. After that, me and my cousin, Joey Alessi, started putting guys together in school singing the doo-wops."

The old college try

His voice was his instrument. Previte learned how to play the piano, but it was always the voice that made the difference. It was the voice that would open doors and turn his various teen bands into the most popular ones through college years.

"I went to college in Iowa, and that's a story in itself," Previte said. "Jersey greaser hits the cornfields. I used to go to class in silk shirts, high-waisted pants, thick and thin socks, and sit next to a kid wearing overalls.

"I had enough of that after a while and transferred to school in Delaware. But I always came back to New Brunswick on weekends 'cause I still had the R&B band. The day I was supposed to graduate from college I went on the road."

Come the late 1960s, Previte was over and done playing Top 40 songs. He wanted to work with original music and was offered the job as lead singer and saxophone player in the Oxford Watch Band.

"Prior to this, I'd only been putzing around with the sax in the R&B band. Anyway, I thought I would try for the job, and so I went to see them playing a big psychedelic club in New York called the Cheetah. I was a greaser and the others were all hippies, but they sounded pretty incredible.

"I went to rehearsal and told them I wanted to sing "Try a Little Tenderness' by Otis Redding. That's what got me the gig."

Previte even passed the sax audition.

"Well, I played it and was told: "You're not great, but we'll work with you.' "

Previte became the new frontman. He stayed with the band for about two years. They released a couple of albums, and there was some touring with the Rascals and Vanilla Fudge. Then, as the Watch Band called it quits, Previte and drummer Gino Charles started the heavy metal band Bull Angus. They signed with Mercury Records and went on the road with Rod Stewart and Deep Purple.

"We even did the Pocono Mountains Festival in front of 300,000 people, with bands like Humble Pie and Emerson, Lake & Palmer headlining," Previte recalled.

The band seemed to be moving, but around the release of its second album, there was a conflict with the booking agency.

"Vinnie Testa, our producer, had this fallout with the agency, and after that the band wasn't getting the same high-profile gigs anymore. I ended up trying to reform Bull Angus two years later in the Midwest, but nothing really happened. That band just never made it."

Uncertain future in music

Instead, Previte went back home to New Brunswick, feeling frustrated and almost about to give up on rock 'n' roll.

"I was 30 years old and beginning to worry about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Maybe I should just quit music. But that thought made me cry and I realized that anything worth crying over must be something I should continue doing."

Previte asked his cousin, Dusty Micale, to come over to help improve his piano playing. Meanwhile, he paid the rent selling used cars from his driveway.

"That actually kept me going for three years," he said. "I also kept on writing songs and my parents gave me $25 a week to take voice lessons."

Buddha Records recognized the talent. Previte was offered a recording deal and signed as an R&B singer. "They were thinking: "This guy sounds really good, we're gonna make him like the white Stevie Wonder.' "

But Previte had a rock 'n' roll heart, and it wasn't long before he got some players together for a demo band, among them guitarist Billy Elworthy.

"I also met Ken Friedson, whose father, Irwin Weiner, was a famous sports agent. They backed this huge showcase in New York. All the labels came out and there were some that liked me. It was encouraging and led me to meeting Burt Padell, a very well-known business manager in New York."

"Padell said: "To tell you the truth, I'm an accountant. I couldn't tell if you suck or if you're great. But I'll talk to some people.' "

Three weeks later, doors would open as Jimmy Ienner of Millennium Records stepped into Previte's life.

"Jimmy came from the doo-wop era, and he liked my voice. He wanted to know if I had a band, so me and Billy brought him a five-song demo. Then Jimmy said: "You write two more songs that I think are as good as these five and I'll give you a record deal.' "

Fronting the Knockouts

Franke & the Knockouts were formed, and "Sweetheart" became the band's first single to move up the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 10 in 1981.

"I think it's a good song, but it's not really rock 'n' roll," Previte said. "Still, it was an achievement. Hearing your song on the radio really blows your mind."

In the early 1980s, Franke & the Knockouts recorded three albums and toured with such acts as the Beach Boys, Toto, the Tubes and Scorpions.

"With "Sweetheart,' "Without You,' "You're My Girl' and "She's a Runner,' the Knockouts were becoming pretty well known," said Previte. "I found out later from Jon Bon Jovi that he was a Knockout fan. He followed us and actually met Tico at one of our gigs."

Still, things would change as Ienner switched from rock 'n' roll to movies and MCA Records was handed the contract for the third album. They wanted to turn the Knockouts into Night Ranger.

Torres later signed with Bon Jovi, while Previte went back to the drawing board and redefined his career as a songwriter. Producer David Prater introduced him to John DeNicola. They all collaborated at a small recording studio in Montclair, but the brass ring still was nowhere in sight.

That's when Ienner called.

Ienner told Previte about this "little movie" titled "Dirty Dancing" and that they needed a great song for the finale. Previte and DeNicola were given two weeks. They really had nothing to lose, and Previte kept Ienner's words in mind: "Franke, write the song. It's gonna change your life."

"They had filmed the last scene first and already turned down 146 out of 150 songs," recalled Previte. "When "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life' was played, everybody knew that this was the song. It made the scene come out so great.

"Later, ("Dirty Dancing' star) Patrick Swayze told me: "That song changed the whole feeling of the movie. It made a big difference in how it all turned out and they way we felt when filming it.' "

"(I've Had) The Time of My Life" was launched as a Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes duet, while another song penned by Previte and DeNicola, "Hungry Eyes," got Eric Carmen back on the pop-singles chart.

The rest is music and movie history. Previte won an Academy Award and a Gloden Globe. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" was voted ASCAP's "Song of the Year" and picked as one of the Top 100 movie songs in history by the American Film Institute.

At the 60th Academy Awards, Previte was accompanied by his parents, who lived in Milltown.

"Mom and Dad were always there for me," he said. "When Bull Angus broke up they told me to come home without giving me a hard time. Instead they gave me $25 a week for voice lessons and let me eat at their house. They told me not to quit music. Having that kind of backing really helped.

"So they were sitting next to me as my song won and I was, like, numb. I don't even remember walking up there. I had some notes about Jimmy Ienner telling me about a "little movie' called "Dirty Dancing.' I thanked Jimmy, Burt Padell, and some other people. Then at the end I said thanks to my parents for the best duet of all."

"Dancing" across the stage

That kind of exposure has led to opportunities: He received an invitation to a songwriting summit in Russia. Previte and such composers as Desmond Child, Mike Stoller and Cyndi Lauper worked with Russia's finest in a project called "Music Speaks Louder Than Words."

Fifty songs were written, and 10 were released on a compilation album. Two out of 10 were co-written by Previte, then recorded by Cyndi Lauper and Earth, Wind & Fire.

As for "Dirty Dancing," it lives on as a musical that's been staged across Europe and Australia. It's scheduled to make its U.S. premiere Sept. 2 in Chicago."It's hard to believe," he says, "looking back on all this, how lucky and blessed I am. Can't wait to see what happens next."

—Asbury Park Press (NJ), August 19, 2007

__________

Bernie

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and here's another point...

it's always a very bad sign when "press" become this belittling force with petty nastiness...

it's another thing to stay grounded and give good constructive criticism when needed...

I dislike Bon Jovi's music quite a bit... and I would never suggest that I "review" any of their shows or CDs because of this personal distaste for the music... it's of no use to anyone...

that said, I could probably judge what's a good Bon Jovi concert from a bad one (going by technical standards obviously)... Still, to take them out and roast them would only benefit my ego and just rile up the fans... which of course, is the motivation here with The Cleveland Press

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Raspbernie said:

You don't even like Jon's early work? "Runaway" should at least tickle your "sweet spot," no?

oh lord, i dislike it more than just about anything... but i chalk that up to growing up at the wrong time... especially since i can tolerate a song or two by New England (Hello Hello Hello) which might as well be Bon Jovi... and a stray tune from Starz....

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what ruins it for me, too is Jon's voice... and the dreadful keyboards... there's a lot of pop faux-pas' in there...

this can also be sighted back to when i saw Prism (another pre-Bon Jovi band) open up for Cheap Trick... they had sideburns in 1979 & poodle hair too... OOOOPs!!! we (my friends and I) all said "gag"...

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Donnie Iris has his OWN day in the city of Pittsburgh, sometime this month ala, "Donnie Iris DAy", no less. Donnie Iris is wonderful. His Voice is still amazingly preserved now even in his mid-60's and I still luv Ah! Leah!, but did he even attain half the success or international acclaim of Eric to earn an Official City Day to be named after...go figure!

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Bernie, thanks for posting the article on Franke Previte. One of my sisters was a huge Franke & the Knockouts fan, and we were so surprised to discover there was a Jimmy Ienner connection to him. It was like fate...

She still has a letter Franke wrote to her after she wrote him a bit of fan mail in 1983 or so. Very nice letter detailing what he and the band planned to do next.

What twisted turns our lives take...what ends up happening but the band breaks up and he ends up co-writing a song that makes him a star and another that jump-starts Eric's career!

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We'd have LOVED it if you'd been born in New Jersey, and we'd proudly claim you. But we love you "jes' the way you are." and you would find quite some fodder for criticizing other aspects of life in the "Garden State." Cleveland seems to be a perfect place to live EXCEPT for their lame music critics.

One thing NJ does is praise homegrown artists. I read the article on Frank Previte and thought it was wonderful.

:) --Darlene

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